One thing that you get used to in Zimbabwe is the erratic electricity supply. The outages can last from hours to days to weeks to months. Some areas may experience outages on a daily basis and in other areas it may only happen every other day. A lot of the time the outages are due to load shedding courtesy of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) but some are a result of blown power transformers where it could take weeks or months before power is restored.
Oil theft is to blame for the blown transformers and this seems to be a common occurrence that is happening all over the place. If it is indeed oil theft, only those who are stealing it know what they are doing with it. People are however speculating that they are selling it off to companies in industrial areas, other say that it is being sold to welders to be used in welding machines and some have even gone on to say that they selling it ZESA.
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Whatever the case may be, this is a very selfish act because they are not only leaving people without power for weeks on end, the transformers have to be repaired or replaced and that comes at a cost. Take for example the transformer shown in this post (click on image for larger view). Oil was stolen from it and ZESA informed residents that it could not be repaired and needed to be replaced at a cost of US $12,000. Depending on how lucky you are, ZESA may or may not come to your rescue. In some instances residents who find themselves without power due to thefts have had to band together and come up with the money to get a new transformer. Some even go as far as hiring a security guard to watch over it thus ensuring it does not happen again.
Questions that come to mind are; would someone in the right mind who has not worked with that kind of equipment disassemble and steal oil from it? Given that they are fiddling around with high voltages where the chances of death are extremely high. That gets you thinking about who would go ahead and attempt to do such. Could it be people working for ZESA or former employees?
The money that these thieves get from carrying out this act can’t compare to the inconvenience that it puts people through and the amount of money needed to restore things back to normal. Is all of that worth an amount of money that may not take you too far?